Updated Wetland Maps

This post originally appeared on the Vermont Watershed Management Division’s blog, Flow.


Please help us congratulate and celebrate the towns, conservation commissions, and VTrans who have mapped wetlands within their communities and along interstate highways and have provided those data for open access on our online Vermont Natural Resource Atlas!


The town mapping data have not been reviewed in the field by the State Wetlands Program to determine wetland significance due to the vast land coverage, but the data are still useful to help with initial screening of potential wetland resources. Some significant wetlands may have been missed during town mapping, especially those under heavy forest cover, and therefore mapping should not be considered comprehensive.

The state of Vermont recognizes wetlands as sensitive areas important for water quality, wildlife habitat, regional beauty, and other functions and values and this is why we are taking steps to try and make our public mapping inventory more informative and comprehensive by including town mapping data.

You can access these town mapping data by going to the Vermont Wetlands Program Homepage http://www.watershedmanagement.vt.gov/wetlands.htm and clicking on “Wetlands Inventory Map” on the upper right hand side of the screen.  The Wetlands Inventory Map Program will open (see picture below).


The town mapping is already an activated sub-layer when you launch the Wetlands Inventory Map, depicted as the light green color shown in the map above. The sub-layer is specifically located under the Watershed Protection Layer, which can be seen if you open map layers on your screen. All layers and sub-layers can be turned on or off at will.

The town mapping within the “Wetlands Advisory Layer” is non-regulatory. To view known state protected wetlands you will still need to view the Vermont Significant Wetlands Inventory (VSWI) maps, shown in yellow on the map above. This sub-layer, also under Watershed Protection, is activated when you open the Wetlands Inventory Map program.

Many protected wetlands are not on the VSWI maps and they may or may not be included on town mapping. Wetlands which are not mapped may still be considered significant and protected under Vermont Law. Indicators for unmapped wetlands are hydric soils, flood hazard zones, standing water, and vernal pools. Often the identification and classification of a wetland requires the assistance of a professional to identify. Landowners are encouraged to contact their District Wetland Ecologist if they have questions regarding protected wetlands.

Wetlands considered significant Class II wetlands are protected under the Vermont Wetland Rules (VWR). Any activity that is not an allowed use designated in §6 of the VWR requires a State Wetland Permit. The updated Rules of 2010 give characteristics of wetlands which should be presumed as significant Class II wetlands in §4.6.


These presumptions are listed below:

  1. The wetland is of the same type and threshold size as those mapped on the VSWI maps: i.e.; open water (pond); emergent marsh; shrub swamp; forested swamp; wet meadow; beaver pond or beaver meadow; bog or fen; or greater than 0.5 acres.
  2. The wetland contains woody vegetation and is adjacent to a stream, river or open body of water.
  3. The wetland contains dense, persistent non-woody vegetation and is adjacent to a stream, river or open body of water.
  4. The wetland is a vernal pool that provides amphibian breeding habitat.
  5. The wetland is a headwater wetland.
  6. The wetland is adjacent to impaired waters and the impairment is related to wetland water quality functions.
  7. The wetland contains a species that appears in the NNHP database as rare, threatened, endangered or uncommon; or is a natural community type that is rare or uncommon.
  8. The wetland has been previously designated as a significant wetland.
  9. It is within sixty (60) days after the landowner has received notice of a preliminary wetland determination pursuant to Section 8.1 of these rules.


So, take a look at our new mapping layers and see what a difference town mapping data have made in identifying where our wetlands are within the Vermont landscape. If your town is not included, know that there are opportunities for map improvements.

If you have any questions about wetlands, check out our website. We provide answers to frequently asked questions, definitions, landowner guides, best management practices, and  links to our permit applications among other resources.